Category Archives: Obama

Obama blocks attempts by Arab allies to fly heavy weapons directly to Kurds to fight Islamic State

Some of America’s closest allies say President Barack Obama and other Western leaders, including David Cameron, are failing to show strategic leadership over the world’s gravest security crisis for decades.

They now say they are willing to “go it alone” in supplying heavy weapons to the Kurds, even if means defying the Iraqi authorities and their American backers, who demand all weapons be channelled through Baghdad.

High level officials from Gulf and other states have told this newspaper that all attempts to persuade Mr Obama of the need to arm the Kurds directly as part of more vigorous plans to take on Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) have failed. The Senate voted down one attempt by supporters of the Kurdish cause last month.

The officials say they are looking at new ways to take the fight to Isil without seeking US approval.

West is losing the Twitter battle with fanatics, says general
Allison Pearson: We should demand military action against Islamic State

“If the Americans and the West are not prepared to do anything serious about defeating Isil, then we will have to find new ways of dealing with the threat,” said a senior Arab government official. “With Isil making ground all the time we simply cannot afford to wait for Washington to wake up to the enormity of the threat we face.”


Kurdish Peshmerga fighters train on a weapon during a training session with British military advisers

The Peshmerga have been successfully fighting Isil, driving them back from the gates of Erbil and, with the support of Kurds from neighbouring Syria, re-establishing control over parts of Iraq’s north-west.

But they are doing so with a makeshift armoury. Millions of pounds-worth of weapons have been bought by a number of European countries to arm the Kurds, but American commanders, who are overseeing all military operations against Isil, are blocking the arms transfers.

One of the core complaints of the Kurds is that the Iraqi army has abandoned so many weapons in the face of Isil attack, the Peshmerga are fighting modern American weaponry with out-of-date Soviet equipment.

At least one Arab state is understood to be considering arming the Peshmerga directly, despite US opposition.

Nuke talks fail; #Iran foreign minister heads home #SeenThatComin

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//VIENNA (AP) — A senior U.S. official acknowledged Sunday that Iran nuclear talks will go past their June 30 target date, as Iran’s foreign minister prepared to head home for consultations before returning to push for a breakthrough.

Iranian media said Mohammed Javad Zarif’s trip was planned in advance. Still, the fact that he was leaving the talks so close to the Tuesday deadline reflected his need to get instructions on how to proceed on issues where the sides remain apart – among them how much access Tehran should give to U.N. experts monitoring his country’s compliance to any deal.

The United States insists on more intrusive monitoring than Iran is ready to give. With these and other disputes still unresolved, the likelihood that the Tuesday target deadline for an Iran nuclear deal could slip was increasingly growing even before the U.S. confirmation.

The dispute over access surfaced again Sunday, with Iranian Gen. Masoud Jazayeri saying that any inspection by foreigners of Iran’s military centers is prohibited.

He said the attempt by the U.S. and its allies to “obtain Iran’s military information for years … by the pressure of sanctions” will not succeed.

But German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who joined the talks Friday, said Iran’s “nuclear activities, no matter where they take place,” must be verifiable.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Zarif met in Vienna for their third encounter since Saturday. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius also is in Vienna, as is British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, while Russia and China are represented for now by deputy foreign ministers.

For weeks, all seven nations at the negotiating table insisted that Tuesday remains the formal deadline for a deal. But with time running out, a senior U.S. official acknowledged that was unrealistic.

“Given the dates, and that we have some work to do … the parties are planning to remain in Vienna beyond June 30 to continue working,” said the official, who demanded anonymity in line with State Department practice.

Asked about the chances for a deal, Federica Mogherini, the European Union’s top diplomat, told reporters: “It’s going to be tough … but not impossible.” Hammond spoke of “major differences” in the way of a deal.

Steinmeier told German media: “I am convinced that if there is no agreement, everyone loses.”

“Iran would remain isolated. A new arms race in a region that is already riven by conflict could be the dramatic consequence.”

Both sides recognize that there is leeway to extend to July 9. As part of an agreement with the U.S. Congress, lawmakers then have 30 days to review the deal before suspending congressional sanctions.

But postponement beyond that would double the congressional review period to 60 days, giving both Iranian and U.S. critics more time to work on undermining an agreement.

Arguing for more time to allow the U.S. to drive a harder bargain, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – a fierce opponent of the talks – weighed in on Sunday against “this bad agreement, which is becoming worse by the day.”

“It is still not too late to go back and insist on demands that will genuinely deny Iran the ability to arm itself with nuclear weapons,” he said.

The goal of the talks involving Iran and the U.S., Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia is a deal that would crimp Tehran’s capacity to make nuclear weapons in exchange for sanctions relief. Iran insists it does not want such arms but is bargaining in exchange for sanctions relief

On Saturday, diplomats told The Associated Press that Iran was considering a U.S.-backed plan for it to send enriched uranium to another country for sale as reactor fuel, a step that would resolve one of several outstanding issues.

Associated Press writers Bradley Klapper and Matthew Lee, Ali Akbar Dareini in Tehran and Josef Federman in Jerusalem contributed to this report

For the love of Iran, keep the sanctions

Iranian President Rouhani stands next to a portrait of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Tehran on 13 June 2015. There are still "many differences over details" of a nuclear deal Iran and world powers are trying to conclude by 30 June 30, Rouhani said. (AFP/Behrouz Mehri)

With guidance and support from the White House, Tehran’s lobby in Washington shames those who speak against the impending nuclear agreement with Iran, often accusing them of warmongering or of being hateful of Iran. Meanwhile, the ayatollah’s lobby praises supporters of the deal, often promising them lucrative rewards once ratified.

Absent from this dichotomy are those who, because of their love of Iran and the Iranians, want the sanctions to stay in place.

Iran is a beautiful country with a long history of a great civilization. Unlike what most history books teach, Iran’s role in producing and shaping events, especially the rise and dominance of Islam, has been underestimated.

Also underestimated are regions that were once part of Perso-Islamic culture. Mary, the capital of Turkmenistan and part of the historic eastern Iranian province of Khorasan, once served as the capital of the Islamic Abbasid Empire at its zenith. Balkh, in northern Afghanistan, produced leaders like the Barmakids, who shaped Islamic history and presided over the famous boom in sciences and humanities that later made the European Renaissance possible. When Christopher Columbus sailed west, he expected to reach India based on an estimated circumference of the Earth measured by Arabic-speaking Perso-Muslim scientists.

To understand how interconnected the history and faith of the Arabs and Iranians have been, think that the famous 8th-century Abbasid Caliph Haroun al-Rashid was born in Tehran and buried in Mashhad.

But Iran is not about history alone. It is a vast and resourceful country. Its people are smart, funny, generous and loyal. Its tasty cuisine has won international acclaim.

The problem, however, is that instead of helping Iran restore its glory, the world looks at the country from a security prism only. And because a group of ayatollahs with crazy, messianic perspectives have dominated the country since 1979, and because they have been stirring up trouble around the world since then, containing Iran’s despots has become the world’s top priority. Iran’s nuclear program has further aggravated the world’s security fears.

But Iran’s antiquated nuclear program should not have become the world’s obsession. Crazy as they are, Iran’s ayatollahs know that nukes are not toys. They know that the first nuclear missile that leaves Iran will spell the nation’s end as the world responds with force that will leave the country devastated.

Iran’s problem is that — despite its long history and superb potential — it lingers near the bottom of every human rights and freedom index. And, unsurprisingly, Iran’s nepotistic and corrupt despots drove the economy into the ground, placing Iran near the bottom of all kinds of economic and human developments indexes.

For Iran to restore its past glory and live up to its potential, it is imperative that the country replace its current Islamic government with a more inclusive, secular, tolerant and transparent one.

There is no shortcut to change in Iran — it will be long and laborious. Change in Iran requires domestic will and international support, but this must include maintaining the sanctions currently leveraged against the regime.

The current sanctions on Iran are crippling for its despotic government. With some aid to dissidents inside and outside the country, a process of gradual change might give Iranians hope of a better and more representative government.

The Iraq War and the Arab Spring have given change a bad reputation. Yet that should not mean despair or succumbing to autocratic rulers. Democracy, freedom and human rights — not the number of centrifuges — remain ideals that the free world should support anywhere, anytime.

Those who want the sanctions on Iran to remain are not warmongers or Iran-haters. On the contrary, they are supporters of a free and democratic Iran; an Iran worthy of its great history and lovely people. Supporters of the sanctions on Iran want to see change happen the old-fashioned way, rather than change engineered in hotel lobbies in Geneva that gives Iran’s oppressive regime a new lease on life.

Those who oppose the removal of sanctions on Iran are enemies of the Iranian government, but friends of the Iranian people. When the deal with nuclear Iran is signed, opponents of the deal would rather have their names recorded as the ones who supported the right thing, rather than those who want what is pragmatic and realistic. History usually remembers those who say and do the right things, not those who cheat for immediate gains.

Hussain Abdul-Hussain is the Washington Bureau Chief of Kuwaiti newspaper Alrai. He tweets @hahussain

Obama to Negotiate with ISIS and the Islamic State, Legalize Paying Ransoms

If you like your Jihad, you can keep your Jihad.

Remember the “We don’t negotiate with terrorists.” There’s an executive order coming. Don’t worry. It’ll be one of those “common sense solutions” for coming to terms with “terrorist folks” that Barack Hussein Obama loves.

The White House will release on Wednesday a presidential directive and an executive order that will allow the government to communicate and negotiate with terrorist groups holding Americans hostage, a source briefed on the matter told CNN.

That’s the process.

First Obama does some phony air strikes. Then it’s time to negotiate. He fought a phony war against the Taliban, which resulted in thousands of American casualties due to his focus on preventing Afghan, rather than American casualties.

Then he tried to negotiate with them. Soon ISIS will be the new moderates.

While the government will maintain its policy of not making “substantive concessions” to captors or paying ransoms, the White House will announce that officials will no longer threaten with criminal prosecution the families of American hostages looking to pay ransoms to their relatives’ captors, according to a senior administration official.

Substantive is of course relative and open to interpretation.

Appeasement is all Obama knows how to do. So this was bound to happen. Now the social justice warriors can visit ISIS-land for their journalism, get captured and then their parents can throw a few million to the terrorists.

And the money can be used to help ISIS commit genocide against non-Muslims.

President Barack Obama will meet Wednesday with the families of American hostages at the White House before delivering remarks at 12:20 p.m. to announce changes in the administration’s hostage policy.

So he’ll be using the families as human shields for his appeasement. Predictable.

Meanwhile CNN’s slideshow list of American hostages begins with a Muslim Brotherhood man convicted in Egypt. Because apparently Muslim terrorists convicted of crimes top our list of hostages.

Obama laments ‘distorted impression’ of Muslims

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“Our prayers remain with Charleston and Mother Emanuel church,” Obama said Monday night, using the nickname of the historically black church in Charleston where nine people were killed Wednesday night after a gunman opened fire in a Bible study.”As Americans, we insist that nobody should be targeted because of who they are, or what they look like, who they love, how they worship. We stand united against these hateful acts.”

Obama lamented the “distorted impression” that many Americans have of Muslims.

“Here in America, many people personally don’t know someone who is Muslim. They mostly hear about Muslims in the news — and that can obviously lead to a very distorted impression,” Obama said.

He shared the story of protesters outside of an Arizona mosque who held up “offensive signs against Islam and Muslims. But when the congregants invited the protesters in to pray, some completely changed their minds.

“One demonstrator, who accepted the invitation later, described how the experience changed him; how he finally saw the Muslim American community for what it is — peaceful and welcoming,” Obama said.

“That’s what can happen when we stop yelling and start listening. That’s why it’s so important always to lift up the stories and voices of proud Americans who are contributing to our country every day.”

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Obama Now Appeasing Hezbollah

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by // Obama deserves some credit. He’s being consistent.

He’s pandering to Iran on nukes and Persian Gulf piracy in international waters. He’s pandering to Iran’s Houthi terrorists on Yemen and to its Shiite militias in Iraq. Why not finish it off with some pandering to Hezbollah?

And that’s exactly what he’s doing.

The U.S. cut funding for a civil society program in Lebanon that seeks to develop alternative Shiite political voices to Hezbollah, the powerful Iranian-backed militia and political party.

The group that received the U.S. support and critics said that the Obama administration was curtailing its efforts to counter Hezbollah to avoid confronting Shiite Iran, with which it is negotiating to conclude a historic nuclear accord this month.

The Hayya Bina program in question was funded through the International Republican Institute, which promotes democracy overseas. It sought to support diverse Shiite voices through workshops, publications and public opinion polling. But in April, the institute notified Hayya Bina that the Obama administration was terminating its support for that program.

The State Department “requests that all activities intended [to] foster an independent moderate Shiite voice be ceased immediately and indefinitely,” said the April 10 letter to Mr. Slim, according to a copy seen by The Wall Street Journal. “Hayya Bina…must eliminate funding for any of the above referenced activities.”

Hezbollah’s leader, Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah, has publicly branded some of his Shiite political opponents as “Shia of the American Embassy,” in recent speeches, as well as “traitors” and “idiots.”

So I guess we’re just going to stick to acting as Hezbollah’s air force while urging the Saudis to stop bombing the Houthis. And the usual excuse for all this covert appeasement of Iran is that if we don’t do it, Iran will walk away from the negotiations that will allow it to develop a bomb anyway.